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Colon picks up win No. 20

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -- Bartolo Colon's AL-leading 20th win did
more than boost his case to win the Cy Young Award. It kept the Los Angeles Angels in control of the AL West.

Colon became the first Angels pitcher to reach 20 wins since
Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan in 1974, beating the Texas Rangers 2-1 on
Tuesday night.

"I was pretty excited about the whole thing," he said through
a translator. "It's a very special feeling to do it for one
team."

The Angels overcame three errors by third baseman Maicer Izturis
and won their fourth straight, staying 1½ games in front of Oakland
in the AL West. The Athletics beat Minnesota 8-3.

Colon held the Rangers, who had won five in a row, scoreless
through 6 2/3 innings. The right-hander gave up one unearned run
and four hits, struck out four and walked none in seven innings.

"He's a special pitcher," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.
"If you look at what he's accomplished from the middle of last
year 'til now, I don't think there's a pitcher who can match what
he's done."

Colon made some warmup pitches in the eighth before leaving with
a cramp in his left leg and a sore spot in his back.

In 1974, Colon was a 1-year-old in the Dominican Republic, yet
to discover Ryan, who would become "my favorite pitcher of all
time," he said.

"Me and my dad always talked growing up about Nolan Ryan, so I
was very aware of the company I would be keeping," said Colon, who
also won 20 games in 2002 while splitting time between Cleveland
and Montreal.

Colon watched Ryan in the 1990s, recalling how he was still
throwing more than 95 mph near the end of his career.

"He threw a lot of fastballs like I do," he said. "I could
watch him, I could learn."

Colon has never met Ryan, joking that he sees him now in
commercials.

He is undefeated in his last 11 starts against the Rangers, with
whom Ryan ended his career. Colon isn't shying away from Cy Young
talk.

"It would mean a lot, especially to my family, to the Angels'
fans and to my country," he said.

Francisco Rodriguez pitched the ninth for his 39th save. He gave
up a leadoff walk to Mark Teixeira and a two-out single to Kevin
Mench, putting the tying and go-ahead runs on base. But he got
Adrian Gonzalez to strike out for the fourth time to preserve
Colon's landmark victory.

Juan Dominguez (3-5) allowed two runs and six hits in seven
innings.

Last Thursday, Colon's bid for a 20th win saw him get hammered
in an 8-6 loss to Detroit that snapped his career-high eight-game
winning streak.

"Against Detroit, I don't know if he was a little psyched up
and he was maybe overthrowing a little bit," Scioscia said.
"Tonight, he was much more in tune early in the game and his
pitches were very, very crisp."

Colon's teammates backed him with solid defense. After Gary
Matthews Jr. singled to open the sixth, shortstop Orlando Cabrera
made a diving stop on Gerald Laird, got up and fired to second to
start a double play before Colon retired David Dellucci.

Colon nearly pitched out of trouble in the seventh. He gave up a
leadoff double to Michael Young, and Teixeira reached on a fielding
error by Izturis.

"We did have some opportunities because of the errors,"
Teixeira said. "We did capitalize on one of them, but their
pitching was just too good. Colon is one of the best pitchers in
the league and he showed that again against us."

Colon got Hank Blalock to hit into a double play, but Izturis
committed his second error when he couldn't cleanly field a
grounder by Alfonso Soriano and Young scored to put the Rangers
within 2-1.

"He's clearly one of the best in the league and probably the
front-runner for the Cy Young right now," Young said. "He's
probably a little banged up out there, too, so that goes to show
you that he's a competitor and he's trying to help his team win a
ballgame."

Izturis committed his third error in the eighth, one that
allowed Texas to put runners on second and third. But Kelvim
Escobar got Young to hit an inning-ending line drive to Izturis,
who caught it, changing the boos to cheers.

Juan Rivera hit his career-high 13th homer with two outs in the
second to give the Angels a 1-0 lead.

Bengie Molina made it 2-0 in the sixth when he grounded to
shortstop, scoring Vladimir Guerrero, who singled, took second on a
passed ball and advanced to third on Darin Erstad's infield single.

Los Angeles had a run taken away in the first when Cabrera was
called for interference at second base in trying to break up a
double-play relay. Scioscia argued with the second and third base
umpires to no avail.

Game notes
Angels LF Garret Anderson left the game in the ninth
because of a stiff back. ... Izturis' three errors were the most in
a game by an Angels' player since Gary DiSarcina had three on Aug.
21, 1999, against Detroit. ... Colon tied Bill Singer (1973), Andy
Messersmith ('71) and Cy Young winner Dean Chance ('64) for fourth
on the Angels' season victories list. Ryan and Clyde Wright (1970)
lead the list with 22 wins. Ryan won 21 in '73. ... Colon is the
only major league pitcher to have won at least 14 games in each of
the past eight seasons starting in 1998. ... Guerrero has hit
safely in all 32 games against Texas, tying the record by a player
against one team set by Paul Molitor against the Chicago White Sox
from 1993-96. ... Young extended his AL-leading hitting streak to
16 games with a double in the seventh.